12.11.2011 21:37

Day 3 - Dead End

Yesterday we thought that we escaped the monster sastrugi field. Today, after 1 hour of relative smooth going, we realized that we just were on a sastrugi free 'island'.

We hit monster sastrugis once more and progress slowed to 100-150m per hour! we did this for about 2 hours. In 2008 we hadn't seen such surface conditipns once in 4 weeks. We realized we are not going anywhere at this pace, so we decided to abandon our sleds and went scouting for an hour just on our skis. We got on top of a ridge and our hearts caught our minds which went completely wild. Monster sastrugi fields in every direction as far as the eye can see!!

What to do? We are still headed west and leaving the severe torture and beating on our bodies aside for a moment, at this pace, continuing on this route, it would take us forever just to get to the last ascent to the polar ice cap. What worries us is that the two other expeditions, Dixi and Copeland have found similar surface conditions where they are with only one or two kiting days.
Unfortunately waiting for wind is not a viable option. Even if we had the perfect kiting wind speed and direction, navigating these monster sastrugi fields is extremely difficult and dangerous. Seeing as the wind is steadily blowing from SSE at 15-20 knots and the forecast continues to show the winds coming from that direction for the next several days, this doesn't seem likely.

It is somewhat difficult to accept that this route is impassable with 170kg sleds. We are not frustrated however and instead will be making our way back to Sanae to regroup. this will take 2-3 days. We will assess our options there and may decide on a more direct route south with higher risk of crevasses or decide to take light sleds and scout a route through the mountains. There are many blessings we can count So while it is a little hard to go back, we have not given up, just making sure that we are making sound and wise decisions and not being blinded by an overzealous and possibly arrogant ego.

The attached pictures describe our day quite adequately....

S71° 48.2´
W003° 06.5´
Distanz: 3 km
Höhe: 738m

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